The Furman rugby team christened the fall season Saturday with a 22-3 win over Division I Georgia while the Paladin b-side dropped a 10-15 decision to the Bulldogs.
The preseason friendly was split into four, 20-minutes halves. Both squads put out their most experienced players in the first two halves and filtered in newer players in the final 40.
It took the Paladins a little over eight minutes to settle into their pattern of play but once they did the team found their way into the try zone. The team’s first try came from a nice scamper by scrumhalf Austin Willis who picked up from the base of the ruck and had a go down the weak side. He drew in the last defender and popped to hard-charging lock RJ Bradley who dotted down in the left hand corner of the try zone. Team Captain Matty Newman slotted the conversion for the early 7-0 lead.
Four minutes later, Newman stretched the lead to 10-0 after slotting a penalty kick from 40 meters out. Co-captain Thomas Trankle was the next to score as the South African eight-man powered over from five meters out after sustained Paladin pressure. The unconverted try took the Paladins to a 15-0 lead.
Georgia added a penalty kick of their own to narrow the gap to 15-3 but the Paladins would have the last word as Trankle stretched his legs and helped himself to his second try of the day. Newman converted the extras and the first two periods were over with the Paladins coming away with a 22-3 advantage.
“It was a good fist showing for us,” said Furman Head Coach John Roberts. “Our defense was excellent and we maintained possession for 75 percent of the game. Our on-field communication was strong, too.”
In the second game, Georgia opened the scoring and took a 3-0 lead in the second two periods after slotting a penalty kick. Minutes later the Paladins scratched their way to a 5-3 lead with an unconverted try over their own as scrumhalf Michael Anthony showed great vision to find eight-man Dylan Bostock on the wing after some impressive phase play.
Minutes later, fly-half John Stumpf stretched the Paladin lead to 10-3 with another unconverted try that he dotted down in the corner after some very stout defense that led to a turnover and counter attack. With 11 minutes to play, Georgia closed the gap to 10-8 with a nicely worked try. And with no time remaining the Bulldogs had the last say as they finished off the young Paladins with a converted try for a final score of 15-10.
“It was a great showing for our new guys,” said Roberts. “Georgia scored most of their points at the end when we had six guys on the pitch who were playing their first game ever. Most of the breakdowns occurred due to expected poor position. All l in all it was a great day of rugby for the team. We are very grateful that Georgia was willing to make the trip.”
Furman will open the regular season 1 p.m., Saturday when the team hosts Western Carolina at John Roberts Field. The Furman second side will take on Queens College at 2:30 p.m.